Do you want to see the sun disappear before your very eyes? Experience night time in the middle of the day? So do thousands of other people, apparently, because they have been filling up reservations hotels, rentals, and camp spots for months already, to see the Total Solar Eclipse of the Sun.
It’s happening across the world on Monday, April 8th 2024, but you have to be in a good spot to see it. It just happens that Benton, Bryant and other cities in central Arkansas are a good spot.
This is because Saline County is within the Path of Totality. That’s the zone that will be covered by the moon’s shadow during the eclipse. According to NASA and greatamericaneclipse.com, the duration of the total eclipse should be around 2 minutes and 30 seconds. In Saline County, you should be able to see it at lunch time. It will start here at around 12:30 p.m.
Scroll down to find the following sections:
1️⃣ WHEN – Times to View the Eclipse April 8th.
2️⃣ WHERE – Places and Map of Eclipse Path.
3️⃣ WHAT – What are Local Businesses and Government Doing?
4️⃣ TIPS – Read the 7 tips for viewing the eclipse.
1. WHEN – Times to View the Eclipse April 8th:
Here are the times for those in Saline County to start watching, according to EclipseArkansas.org:
This is for Benton, Bryant, Bauxite, Haskell and nearby areas. These times are rounded ahead to a minute or two earlier.
- 12:30 PM – Partial Eclipse Beginning
- 01:50 PM – Total Eclipse Beginning
- 01:52 PM – Maximum Eclipse
- 01:53 PM – Total Eclipse End
- 03:10 PM – Partial Eclipse End
See below for eclipse times in major cities:
2. WHERE – Places and Map of Eclipse Path
See Eclipse Viewing Tips below! 👇
The following cities in Arkansas (along with surrounding areas) will be able to see the Totality:
Arkadelphia, Ashdown, Atkins, Barling, Bauxite, Batesville, Beebe, Benton, Booneville, Bryant, Cabot, Cherokee Village, Clarksville, Conway, Corning, De Queen, East End, Greenbrier, Greenwood, Haskell, Heber Springs, Hope, Hot Springs, Hot Springs Village, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Malvern, Maumelle, Mena, Morrilton, Mountain Home, Nashville, Newport, Ozark, Paragould, Paris, Piggott, Pocahontas, Pottsville, Prescott, Rockwell, Russellville, Searcy, Texarkana, Waldron, and Walnut Ridge.
3. WHAT – What are Local Businesses and Government Doing?
Saline County will most likely see an economic boost from this astronomical event. Michael McNamara, who owns Suite Spot Camper and Pontoon Rentals, confirmed the boost in business, “Almost all of our campers are already rented, I believe what they’re doing is planning to put them on the lake and watch it from there, and they’ve also rented most of the boats available.” He mentioned that all of his AirBnB rentals in Hot Springs, Arkansas are booked.
See the Eclipse Map 👇 and Viewing Tips below!
We know local business owners are happy with this upcoming Solar Eclipse, but what about local government bodies?
We’re checking with the school districts and so far, we know Benton and Bryant Public Schools will be closed. We’re waiting to hear from Bauxite and Harmony Grove Schools.
Matt Thibault is the Marketing Director for the City of Benton. “The City is excited to welcome visitors from across the country. We hope visitors enjoy Benton’s local restaurants and shops. We have city services on standby and ready to act should the need arise.”
Thibault noted that the Downtown Benton Farmers Market will have their season kickoff on Saturday, April 6th. They plan to have food trucks and activities for the kids. Hours are 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Find the Farmers Market at Ashley and Main Streets in Benton.
Benton Mayor Tom Farmer said the City has free parking in their Parks and Recreation lots. (Click the name links to go to maps.) Good viewing spots are the River Center lot, and around Sunset Lake, both located off Interstate 30’s exit 116. Another spot with free parking is Tyndall Park, on East Sevier Street, near Benton High School.
Dave Parker of the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT). He said the Department has been talking about the event for the last two years. “We’ve talked to the DOTs from the other states and we’re expecting about 1.5 million drivers coming into Arkansas days leading up to the Eclipse,” said Parker. “We are currently assessing routes near hotels and other areas we know will be over-encumbered, and how to best manage the traffic safely. We will make sure places like hospitals and emergency clinics are not blocked to the public due to the increased traffic.” Parker stated.
He said the Department aims to help the public by providing alternative route information ahead of time so people can still get to where they need to go. According to Parker, even the Saline County schools plan to shut down for the Monday that the Eclipse is to occur.
4. TIPS – Read the 7 tips for viewing the eclipse:
1. If you want to get a look at the eclipse, get glasses made specifically for it.
2. In the days leading up to the totality event, review the steps to keep your eyes safe from harm while viewing. Here are instructions from NASA about it.
3. If you’re traveling a distance to view the totality, plan far in advance. Many hotels, etc. are already sold out. Wherever you’re going, get there early. Thousands of people will have the same idea.
4. Plan ahead to be ready with plenty of gas, food and water.
5. Check the weather with several sources in the days leading up to the event.
6. If you plan on taking pictures, learn in advance how to accomplish this. It may not be as easy as you think.
7. Just one more thing to think about: since this darkness will be happening over lunch hour on a Monday, you might want to order the *light entrée.
- See the list of all the events in Saline County, at www.mysaline.com/events.